Messina's redeveloped regional museum is one of Sicily's lesser-known highlights, with an extensive collection of fascinating art and archaeology. Its many highlights include the ram bow of an ancient Roman warship, the wonderfully figurative San Gregorio (St Gregory) polyptych by local boy Antonello da Messina (1430–79), and two splendid works by Caravaggio (1571–1610): L'Adorazione dei pastori (Adoration of the Shepherds) and Risurrezione di Lazzaro (Resurrection of Lazarus).
Other standout paintings include an early-16th-century depiction of Cristo alla colonna (Christ at the Pillar) and the striking Deposizione dalla croce (Deposition from the Cross) by Colijn de Coter (1474–1536). The collection also includes the original Neptune from Messina's 16th-century Fontana del Nettuno and a fascinating navigational map of the Mediterranean created by Placido Caloiro e Oliva in 1646. You'll also find the excavated ruins of a monastery's putridarium, a crypt in which corpses were left to decompose on masonry chairs before the remaining bones were collected, cleaned and stored in an ossuary.
To reach the museum, catch a tram at Piazza Cairoli and take a ride up the sickle-shaped harbour. Halfway along, you'll see the 16th-century Fontana del Nettuno in the middle of two busy roads, and the colossal golden statue, the Madonna della Lettera, towering over the port. Alight at the Ringo tram stop, from where the museum is a short walk.